We know you've heard the rallying cry of some Americans, claiming that we need to "Take this nation back" and become a "Christian" nation again. But what does a nation that turns to God really look like? When we look back at American history, have we always done ALL things for His glory? Last time I checked, slavery, rebellion, civil war, oppression, and racism weren't exactly "biblical values". In this post, Joey explores the fallacy of thinking that America is (or ever was) a Christian nation.
I recently read Gregory A. Boyd’s, Myth of a Christian Nation. It is an excellent book that got me thinking , so for the Fourth of July, I thought I’d share some thoughts with you.
America Was Never a Christian Nation Folks
“We need to take back America for Jesus and make this once again a Christian nation.” How many times have you heard this battle-cry from Christians? It goes something like this:
Our founding fathers founded this country on Christian principles and ever since then, we’ve digressed; and now, because of our bad decisions, we are at a place of immense depravity. And if the Christians don’t lead the way in bringing us back to God, there’s going to be some hell to pay from a wrathful God.
What I am having a hard time seeing here is the meaning behind “bringing us back to God.”
So, when was it that we were “with God?”
Was it in the very beginning when we rebelled against the King (Great Britain) and fought a bloody, violent war for our independence?
Was it later during our awesome exploration of the America’s when we slaughtered a bunch of native populations (human beings) in order to prosper and live off their land “to the glory of God?”
Was it during all those years when Africans (human beings) were brought to our land as property by white men (most of them professing Christians, I’m sure), worked to death, murdered, bred, sold and abandoned?
Or was it during those years when our country was at war internally?
Was it later on when we really got our act together? You know, back when prayer was still in the public schools, but the black people were not? The “blacks” had their own schools if they weren’t hanging at the end of a rope or in the back of buses “to the glory of God.”
I know you won’t believe me when I say it, but I love the United State of America and am actually really patriotic. I loved watching the original Dream Team back in 1992 whip up and dunk all over foreign countries’ asses. I dig the fact that we have way more freedom than most of the world. I love the culture here and prefer democracy and capitalism. I try to submit to the leadership here but…
A Christian nation? I just don’t understand.
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This country was founded on some biblical principles, such as the freedom, hard work and the pursuit of happiness. Wait, the bible says we are to pursue…happiness? This may be a “christian religious country,” but a “Jesus-following Christian country?” No way.
Unless you think that “being a Christian” means “saying you are a Christian,” or “believing in certain values” or “being good ole boys” or maybe it means that “you simply go to church.” If that’s the case, you’re right. This all began as a Christian nation because these are all things our citizens did back in the day.
However, it seems as if “being a Christian” actually has a lot to do with living a life of complete submission to Christ (Romans 12: 1-2). “Christians” meaning “little Christs,” meaning those that mimicked Jesus. He came to serve. We certainly didn’t serve Great Britain when we fought for our independence.
It seems as if “being a Christian” would usually include treating others as one would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have wanted the same treatment Native Americans and African Americans received from us throughout U.S. history.
You see, Jesus’ way of doing things has always been radically different from the norm. America doesn’t look anything like Jesus who rebuked Peter for cutting off the soldier’s ear, even though He knew what was coming; the one who prayed for the very ones who tortured Him, saying “forgive them.” The one who washed the disgusting feet of his self-centered followers, had mercy on the harlot, and said “give to the government what belongs to the government” (Matthew 12:17), and basically “Stop asking these dumbass, less important questions. I’m building an eternal kingdom that will far outlast this earthly government.”
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this kingdom that Jesus was, is, and will always be building is not the United States of America. It sucks that I even have to say this.
I’m not even saying that God hasn’t brought out a lot of good from the USA (Romans 8:28). I’m not saying that there’s never a time for war (Ecclesiastes 3:8), even though obviously war isn’t a part of God’s original plan. I’m not saying that Christian Americans aren’t the salt of the earth, along with all other “foreign” salt spread all over the world (this would include believers in Iraq and North Korea).
So what’s the point of this post, you may be asking? Quite frankly, I think there are too many Christians that are too excited about the USA. Or maybe I should say that they are too excited for the wrong reasons.
I think that there are a lot of Christian Republicans that think they are on God’s side. I think there are a lot of Christian Democrats that think they are more like Jesus. I think, if a lot of these political zealots were honest, they’d have to admit that they treat their political platform (or worldly kingdom, you might say) as if it was Jesus’ heavenly kingdom.
America is not like Jesus. We are a bunch of people that need him. Honestly, we have so much materialism and wealth, we probably need Him more (Matthew 19:24).
I love America, I love a lot of what we stand for, but I know that we aren’t the hope of the world. We certainly are an integral part of the world’s problems. And when the world (which in this case means foreign countries and secular cultures everywhere) sees Christians proclaiming America as “Jesus’ favorite” because of our “good works” and cite the lyrics to “God Bless American,” it turns their stomachs and likely turns a lot of them from Christ. It’s probably because they can’t forget all the bad things we’ve done in our history. They can’t erase from their minds the things that sinners did in the name of their “Christian Nation.”
We don’t need America to turn back into a Christian nation. We need humans all over the world to turn their lives over to Jesus.